Pitre Has Become Old Kid on Blocks

Times Staff Writer

No player represents UCLA’s football program under Coach Karl Dorrell better than junior fullback Michael Pitre.

An overlooked member of Dorrell’s first recruiting class in 2003, Pitre has been a reliable contributor the last two years and has become a quiet leader on this season’s team.

Pitre -- an honorable-mention All-Pacific 10 Conference selection last season -- is looking to get more work in Dorrell’s expanding attack.

“I think we’re really ready to open this offense up,” said Pitre, who touched the football only 25 times last season (15 carries for 69 yards and one touchdown; 10 catches for 67 yards and two touchdowns).


After ranking second in the Pac-10 in scoring at 39.1 points per game last season, UCLA has a revamped offensive coaching staff this year. New assistants Jim Colletto, D.J. McCarthy and John Wristen have joined Dino Babers, who moved from receivers coach to running backs, and quarterbacks coach Jim Svboda, who was promoted to offensive coordinator.

Pitre said the players are excited about the offense’s potential.

“It’s probably been harder on our new coaches because sometimes they are trying to catch up with us,” he said.

One thing that will not change for Pitre is his main job, blocking. After leading the way for Maurice Drew the last two years, Pitre will have to break in Chris Markey and Kahlil Bell as UCLA’s top two backs.

That’s not as simple as it sounds.

“I was obviously comfortable with Maurice because we worked together so long,” Pitre said. “He liked for me to just leave him one on one with a tackler. He always felt that no one could really tackle him.

“With Chris, it’s different. He has very good feet and very good vision. He’s the type who wants me to expect that cutback ... Kahlil is all downhill. Just give him a seam and he’s putting his head down and going.

“They are both great backs who I have to get used to blocking for.”


Sophomore safety Robert Kibble, who missed time during spring drills because of multiple sclerosis, suffered another setback with the disease Friday and will be sidelined indefinitely.

“It’s not as bad as it was in the spring, when he had to go to the hospital,” Dorrell said. “He’s able to walk and use all of his extremities and all of that. We’re just trying to head off any issues before it gets any worse than it already is.”


Defensive end Nikola Dragovic suffered a hamstring injury in the morning practice and did not participate in the afternoon session.... Receiver Brandon Breazell missed both practices on Saturday because of family reasons and is expected to be back with the team today.... Receiver Marcus Everett returned for Saturday’s afternoon workout after missing the previous three days to attend his grandfather’s funeral.